Images and captions by the young David Evans.
Nuneaton Griff gave visitors Walsall Wood a bit of a wake-up call yesterday afternoon (Saturday, 14th October 2017) when they held the Woodmen to a no-score draw.
The home side played well, and Bill Shaw was impressed with their performance, if not that of the Walsall Wood lads…
A frustrating afternoon at the Pingles, not helped by the sixth minute penalty miss. Also an assistant who appeared to be caught in a time warp, constantly giving offside decisions as when the ball was received, not when it was kicked.
A new manager playing at home for the first time saw Griff turn in a scintillating performance, even without the ball.
It’s seven days rest for Wood but no easy rehabilitation next Saturday with Atherstone Town the visitors. They of course reckon the four-one defeat to Wood was a travesty of justice. So an interesting 90 minutes in prospect, don’t be late, your club needs you.
Nuneaton Griff 0 v 0 Walsall Wood
Ninety minutes of frustration for Wood, culminating in their first draw of the campaign and Studley Town taking advantage as they reclaimed top spot.
Wood took charge from the first whistle penning the Heartlanders back in their half. On five minutes Lewis Taylor Boyce raced onto a long ball forward into the right of the box, his low cross flashing across the face of the goal just in front of Sam Agar. From the goal kick the ball was soon back in the home box, under intense pressure a defender tried to play the ball inside but only found Wood’s Tony Clarke, who avoided one desperate tackle before going down under a clumsy challenge, he took the penalty himself, keeper and man of the match George Woodward diving low to his right.
On nine minutes Peter Till cut inside from wide left, chipped a ball to the far post, Agar first to the ball but his shot was deflected wide. Two minutes later a ball out of defence by Lewis Hayden found Clarke on the right of the box, his first time drive well held by Woodward. On 19 minutes a ball over the top by Callum McFarlane was touched on by Agar to Clarke who hit a rising drive that was superbly touched over by Woodward. From the corner the ball found its way out wide left to Till, his near post ball flicked narrowly wide by Agar. Three minutes later Agar collected a ball into the right of the box, going through one tackle only for Woodward to save bravely at his feet.
On 26 minutes Jack Colley raced clear wide right, cutting inside only to be stopped by a superbly timed challenge from Craig Deakin as Wood lost concentration.
Six minutes later Hayden delivered a cross to the right hand post, Agar headed the ball back across goal, Jordan Fitzpatrick powered in a header that was somehow kept out by Woodward with a fantastic point blank save. Wood ended the half as they started putting the hosts under constant pressure without making the breakthrough.
The hosts tried to get a foothold in the game at the start of the second half but it was Wood who threatened first on 51 minutes, Agar held the ball up in the centre before releasing Hayden wide right, he made the byeline, fired in a low cross that Frazer Mullis put behind to deny Clarke. Four minutes later a free kick from the left of box to the far post was headed goalwards by Fitzpatrick, Woodward saving easily. Wood continued to push forward getting more and more frustrated at the home side’s ‘They shall not pass’ tactics, until on 70 minutes substitute Harry Harris hit a 50 yard pass to find Agar wide right, his vicious low cross from the byeline cut out by Mullis. Eight minutes later Deakin raced into the left of the box, his low cross again put behind by the hard working defenders.
Wood were nearly caught out on 80 minutes, an attack broke down, the ball was played up the left hand side, played inside to find Matt Brennan who swung a boot, putting a cross shot wide. A minute later a long ball over the top was collected at pace by Agar, Woodward out to save bravely at his feet. As in the first half Wood kept up the pressure but brave defending gave Griff a surprising point in manager Courtney Belford’s first home game.
Credit to the home side on a great rearguard performance, never giving Wood any time in front of goal as they worked so hard. Wood had 90% possession but lacked composure in front of goal and paid the price as they lost top spot.
It’s FA Vase action next for Wood with Atherstone Town the visitors on Saturday 21st.
Nuneaton Griff – Woodward, Aston (captain), Reader, Davis, Mullis, Wilks, Colley, Lamb, Brennan, Mitchell, Brindley, Slinn, McEwan, Jones, Stringer, Dodd.
Walsall Wood – Ransome, Hayden, Deakin, Meakin-Richards, McFarlane, Tolley (captain), Till, Westwood, Agar, Clarke, Fitzpatrick, Gould, Jones, Okojie, Taylor Boyce, Harris.
Thanks to Bill and David for the wonderful report and images… for the Good of The Wood!